China's US Policy Embassy Bombing Is Just Momentary Hitch for Beijing Policy of Reform and Openness

By Lampton, David M. | The Christian Science Monitor, July 14, 1999 | Go to article overview

China's US Policy Embassy Bombing Is Just Momentary Hitch for Beijing Policy of Reform and Openness


Lampton, David M., The Christian Science Monitor


China's top leaders want and intend to maintain stable relations with the United States in the wake of the mistaken bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. If Washington and Beijing play their cards right, by the end of the year, relations can be back on track and China and the US can finally reach agreement on China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Beijing elite soon will gather at the North China beach resort of Beidaihe for their annual policy confab. This year, the aging men in swim trunks will be throwing a lot of policy sand at one another, with the troubled state of US-China relations a principal agenda item. They'll be arguing over what the emerging world order means for China, and assessing Washington's intentions toward them. While the debate will be sharp, particularly concerning WTO entry terms, the likely policy to be adopted should be reassuring to Washington. Unless something dramatic intervenes, Beijing will reaffirm the primacy of domestic reform and openness, and the continuity of its foreign policy and personnel at the very highest levels of leadership.

The principal challenge the Chinese elite face is how to move policy back toward where it was before the mistaken US bombing of the embassy in Belgrade, without losing credibility with a Chinese public genuinely outraged by an attack they can't conceive was accidental. This probably will take a few more months, meaning the September meeting between President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin in New Zealand is the best opportunity to reach a WTO agreement and get relations back on track. There are three key aspects of future Chinese policy likely to emerge in the next few months. The fundamental policy of reform and openness will not change. A productive relationship with the US is key to its success. Although marginally more resources will be directed to China's military, Beijing will continue to focus on internal economic and social development, believing that peace and development remain the dominant global trend.

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China's US Policy Embassy Bombing Is Just Momentary Hitch for Beijing Policy of Reform and Openness
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